Many of you know that I am VERY proud of my Irish heritage. My mother’s family is comprised of Walkers, Bryants, Murphys, McKinneys…you get the idea. So in honor of that heritage and to give you a reason to celebrate the spiritual side of St. Patrick’s day, I humbly submit this bio.
One of my favorite personalities from Christian History has to be Patrick of Ireland. Though much of his life is shrouded in legend and folklore, he was indisputably the most instrumental figure in the spread of the gospel to Ireland. As a teenager (possibly 16), the man called Patrick (whose real name was most likely something else, Patrick was derived from the fact that his family was patrician, or of the ruling class) was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken from his home in Scotland to Ireland. These men were basically slave traders who sold Patrick to an Irish chieftain who used him to herd flocks. Remembering his Christian upbringing, Patrick often prayed as carried out his work. He would later write that it was during this time that his faith grew. He also learned the language of the Celts, came to understand their pagan practices and the druidism that plagued Ireland.
After 6 years of slavery, Patrick would escape and return to Britain, where he began to sense that God was calling him to return to Ireland and bring the gospel to his former captives – often seeing visions of Irish children begging him to return to them. To prepare for this work, he went to St. Martin’s monastery at Tours, France to study for the ministry. There he was mentored by St. Germain.
After 18 years of study, Patrick returned to Ireland. His life, from the time of his kidnapping, was preparing him for this phase of his life. He used his knowledge of the culture of the Irish people, their bondage to druidism, their socio-political structure, and most of all, their desperate need for a Savior. This was combined with his knowledge of Scripture, his experience in combating heresies and his tutelage under Germain to form the basis for the work that he was to undertake in converting the Irish peoples from the darkness of paganism to the light of Christ’s love. By the time of his death, on March 17, 493 – almost the whole of Ireland had been converted to Christ.
Patrick exemplifies the Scripture from Romans 8.28 – God used everything that happened in his life, both the bad and the good to work out His purpose for this man. He was open to the Holy Spirit’s leading, felt compassion for the lost and devoted himself to the preparation and execution of God’s calling for his life. As believers in Christ, may we all commit ourselves to the Lord’s calling for our lives, look at life’s struggles as part of God’s sovereign plan and seek to compassionately share Christ’s love with the lost He places in our path.
HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY!